Are there any humans out there?

Many marketers talk about the importance of the human element in their marketing mix. But in the rush to adopt the latest technology, social media and automation to attract customers, real live touch points with people can and do get lost.

It’s important to understand that using technology exclusively to interact with audiences is preferred at different stages of the sales cycle. The role of content marketing is to allow potential buyers to navigate the buying process until they are ready to engage with you and your products and services.

The ideal solution incorporates a blend of how your prospects want to shop and buy from you and the opportunity for you to engage with them to understand and respond to their concerns when they are ready. The key here is to not let technology drive how you interact with your customers, but rather to take the insights you have gathered from their shopping habits or engagement with you to maximize the relationship. This includes looking at and analyzing their comments, emails, likes, follows, sign-ups for free webinars or podcasts, etc. Are you listening to what your customers are telling you here?

And are you answering their questions? This can include everything from personalized responses to retweets and comments to answers to questions during a webinar or podcast to more direct responses to emails and sales or product-related questions. Have you realized the incredible clues you can get about your clients and followers in this way? You just have to care enough to open yourself up to their stories and their need to contribute.

A study conducted by the SCI Sales Group showed that more and larger sales resulted from human interaction in some form. A 2013 Content Marketing study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs also notes that B2B marketers find that in-person events are still the most effective way to qualify leads and get sales.

It is the personal integrity and relationships that you build with your clients and customers that really matters. People still buy from people they trust and respect, and in my opinion the only way we can really get to know one another is by taking the time to share our stories.

In the best two-way relationships, everyone has the opportunity to tell their story to someone who cares.

As one of my colleagues, Michael Scranton pointed out, it isn’t about the stories we have to tell. It’s about the story we can tell together with our clients.

This starts with knowing the questions to ask, and listening to the answers that are given. It’s about finding a role for your product in your clients’ lives – and taking them from the story they are in to the story where they want to be, thanks to what you have to offer them along the way.

So I have to ask – what’s your story?

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